tv Senator Schumer on Puerto Rico CSPAN September 26, 2017 12:50pm-12:59pm EDT
the serious problems facing thee people of puerto rico and the u.s. virgin islands as a result of recent hurricanes. this damage has been terrible. the latest hurricane was especially devastating. to we want the people of puerto rico and the islands to know that we're thinking of them, ano more important, we want them to know that will continue to works with fema and the department of defense and the rest of the administration to help in the recovery. i expect we'll have more soon on what additional resources will be necessary in puerto rico, and elsewhere in the paths of the storms. the recovery effort is certainly not going to be easy.ui it's not going to be quick, buto we are here to do our part. >> one other thing, mr. president, and the main subject i'm going to speak up today, instead of trying to take health care away from millions of americans, the senate and the white house should focus on a much more pressing matter thisd.
week, the desperate situation in puerto rico and the virgin islands. after suffering the winds and rains of burma and maria, the islands of puerto rico is completely devastated. i can't recall in my lifetime and hurricane wreaking such devastation on any part of the united states. it's people, 3.5 millionn american citizens face one of the greatest humanitarian crisee in recent memory. f listen to these facts. the island is nearly the entire island is without power and reserves of gas and diesel fuel are dangerously low. maybe 20 days left. i read in the newspaper this morning, 80% of the major power lines, the big trunk lines that deliver power, are down. if you don't have power, just think of what that does.
th last night that 40 40% of peopln the island lack possible water -- potable some estimates he's as much as 65%. the food supply is dwindling so people are without food. you were than 250 of the islands eckstein hundred cell phone towers are operational. the people can't even find their parents or their children or their relatives.ay there's no way to reach them. i remember just the day of 9/11 when cell phone service went out in new york and i couldn't reach my daughters. well, this is been going on for days and days and days. the damage to one of the largest dams on the island has created the need for another massivet wh evacuation. but 95% of the cell phones out of service in that part of the
island, evacuations have to be carried out by officials going door to door to about 70,000 residents who are in harms way telling them they have to leave their homes. worse still, the damage to puerto rico as roads and bridges, ports have isolated a communities and delayed the arrival of a period so it's not hyperbolic to say that you storms together accept puerto rico back decades. the damage is apocalyptic, it's biblical. the situation on the u.s. virgin islands is similar. words and statistics can hardly begin to use described the devastation these americans are beginning to grapple with. and it hit home. one of my staffers couldn't find an uncle. they found it on the virgin islands dad last night so it --
it hits home to our staff and to all americans. looking at the pictures and the news reports, the island is now emblematic of a war zone. what we need to do is provide a to puerto rico and the virgin islands as quickly as humanly possible. water, power, shelter, food, they need help. they need it now. so here's what should happen. first, president trump must issue a full disaster declaration for all of puerto rico. right now 24 of the 70 municipalities on the island ard not eligible for fema grants to rebuild their homes. president trump should also waive the local cost share requirement for emergency funds so that puerto rico can rebuild without having to worry about falling even deeper into debt. while our nation's on forces and we salute our soldiers all the time, are already assisting puerto rico, more needs to be
done. at the most experienced part of our government in the movement of food, water, mobile power and medical supplies, the department of defense should immediately determine what additional resources and capabilities can be deployed to aid puerto rico.o if secretary mattis hasn't already met with the director o. fema, i hope he will do it today. import importantly, the administration should prepare immediate and interim emergency aid requests. and the majority leader should put that on the floor of the senate before we leave this week. f anything less would be an abject failure of our duty to come to the aid of our fellow u.s. citizens. the administration submitted a request for hurricane harvey less than a week after the storm made landfall. we are rapidly closing in on that same marker for maria hitting puerto rico.
we need to move fast. we need to move now. lives, lives are at stake. the administration, this morning i saw that president trump tweeted that puerto rico was in deep trouble, but that relief efforts were quote doing well. with all due respect, president trump, relief efforts are not doing well. they are not close good enough.a all any american needs to do is open up a newspaper, or turn on the tv to know that puerto rico is not doing well. in his tweets president trump also brought up the issue of water because debt. now, that's a totally different issue, and pales in comparison the immediate humanitarian crisis based on the island. again, now is not the time, mr. president, puerto rico needs help from aid workers, not debt
collectors from wall street.ee yes, puerto rico needs debt relief, but first they need humanitarian relief. water, food, medicine, fuel. but but it's a pattern of how our president, unfortunately,ry response to natural disasters. he insist that relief and recovery efforts are doing well or doing great. sometimes it has no relationship if t to the facts on the ground as if this was a public relations campaign and not a rescue recovery and rebuilding operation. that time for tweets and talk is over. the american citizens in puerto rico and the virgin islands need action and results. the best thing the president can do is get all the people in his administration, all the relevant people together, and come upli with an aid package delivered to us in the next day or two so we can pass it before we leave here this week.
again, instead of trying to take away health care from millions of americans, that's what we are debating now, that effort seems to be in real trouble. the trump administration and the republican majority should put emergency aid package on the floor before the week is out. oa as the mayor of san juan said earlier today, we need to get our act together, because people are dying. situation is desperate. it's urgent. it's time to act now. >> senate democrats held a news conference this morning on the u.s. capitol lawn to talk about republican health care proposal that is three votes short of passage right now. the senate democratic whip said on the floor that the issue could still come to the floor for a vote this week.